Community Public Laundries will Integrate Trainings, Free Women’s Time and Money
The Ministry of Women in Brazil is spearheading a groundbreaking initiative by allocating R$2.6 million from the 2023 budget to fund the establishment of public laundries.
Brazil’s federal government, through the Ministry of Women, plans to finance the construction of public laundries for community use, where the population can wash clothes for free. The deadline for municipalities, states and the Federal District to submit proposals for the installation ends on November 15th.
The laundries, in addition to offering free clothing cleaning, will provide a space for training activities and promote debates on feminist economics and the division of labor in the home.
Until November 14th, states, municipalities, and other federated entities are invited to submit proposals to the Ministry for the creation of community-oriented laundries within their jurisdictions.
Beyond providing a physical space, these community laundries are expected to integrate training programs addressing topics such as feminist economics and the sexual division of labor.
An infusion of R$2.6 million from the 2023 General Union Budget will kickstart this endeavor, with the possibility of additional contributions from federated entities entering into agreements for this purpose. Notably, the maximum allocation for engineering works and services is set at R$400,000.
Proposals will undergo rigorous evaluation based on six criteria: a track record and experience in implementing similar initiatives, a documented history related to the systematization of comparable training and experiential processes, a demonstrated history in project preparation and management, institutional relationships with relevant public authorities (or entities related to the agreement’s objective), proof of available infrastructure (including physical space and equipment), and the qualifications of the professional team involved.
Rosane da Silva, the national secretary of Economic Autonomy and Care Policy at the Ministry of Women, explains that the decision to launch this initiative was based on a comprehensive diagnosis conducted by the Interministerial Working Group.
This group, established in March of the current year, includes representatives from 20 organizations and is coordinated by MWomen and the Ministry of Social Development and Social Assistance, Family, and the Fight Against Hunger (MDS). Its primary objective is to formulate a National Care Policy.
Addressing a Care Crisis
The initiative stems from a recognition of the profound impact of domestic work on the lives of women.
The 2022 Census reveals that a significant portion of the 90 million Brazilian households is headed by women. Simultaneously, a “care crisis” has emerged, signifying the strain on familial strategies to meet the myriad demands of caregiving within households.
Rosane da Silva emphasizes that the notice aims to promote public care policies geared towards alleviating the time burden on women engaged in domestic and care work.
The intent is for the State to share this responsibility by providing essential public services and facilities.
This initiative aligns with a broader national vision focused on fostering economic autonomy and redefining societal perceptions of care work.
Pilot Project will Encourage Discussion on Domestic Labor
The intention of training activities at the laundromats is to provoke reflection, explains Agencia Brasil.
“We want to talk about the division of labor between men and women,” says Rosane da Silva, national secretary of Economic Autonomy at the Ministry of Women.
“Wouldn’t a family be much happier if everyone living in that family could share the work? So, one person washes, another makes the food, another organizes the house, and then everyone finishes work at the same time and everyone will be able to have their free time to do what they want,” she recommends.
Rosane da Silva highlights that the laundries to be financed are different from other existing projects in the country, such as those run by women’s cooperatives that use the equipment and thus have the means to provide laundry services and increase income.
Reducing Domestic Work
The purpose of the current initiative is to reduce domestic work, generally carried out by women.
Agencia Brasil states that laundries will function like common private stores, where the client leaves the clothes to be washed and picks them up later.
“The idea is that they leave their clothes in the laundry. There will be staff to receive and take care of these clothes. Then the women go there and get these clean clothes at no cost,” says the secretary. The service will for the community, “men will also be able to use the space,” she adds.
A Transformative Initiative
The Ministry of Women made a groundbreaking announcement with the release of Public Call Notice No. 2 of 2023, ushering the transformative initiative aimed at restructuring public laundries.
This pioneering project incorporates comprehensive training activities focused on the critical themes of feminist economics and the sexual division of labor.
The Ministry is actively seeking partnerships, and the National Secretariat for Economic Autonomy is poised to play a pivotal role in this transformative endeavor.
This initiative aligns with the evolving perspective of the federal government, prioritizing a robust discourse on care work.
The objective is to introduce innovative tools and actions that alleviate the disproportionate burden on women.
The vast spectrum of activities falling under the umbrella of the “Care Economy,” such as washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, and caregiving, especially towards children, the sick, are daily tasks, are predominantly shouldered by women, and contribute significantly to the well-being of individuals and the nation’s wealth.
A 2017 study by the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) revealed that unpaid domestic work exerted an 11% impact on the Brazilian GDP that year.
Rosane da Silva emphasized that the decision to issue the notice emanated from a comprehensive diagnosis by the Interministerial Working Group.
Formed in March of the current year, this group includes representatives from 20 organizations and operates under the coordination of MMulheres and the Ministry of Social Development and Social Assistance, Family, and the Fight Against Hunger (MDS). Their collective objective is the formulation of a National Care Policy.
Da Silva highlighted,
“The objective of the notice is to promote public care policies aimed at reducing the time women spend on domestic and care work, a responsibility that must be shared by the State through the provision of public services and equipment.”
Delving into the specifics of the notice, it reveals a total budget of two million and six hundred thousand reais allocated for the year 2023.
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